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Number of homeless in Queens rises 14 percent: City study

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The city released Friday the results of the 2010 Homeless Outreach Population Estimate, and for the first time since the count’s inception in 2005 the city’s population of unsheltered individuals experienced an increase.

As of the January survey, there were 3,111 homeless people living on the streets of New York City, an increase of 7,783 individuals from 2009, but still 1,284, or 29 percent, less than in 2005.

The homeless population in Queens increased by 14 percent between 2009 and 2010, from 98 to 112, but that number remains 67 percent lower than the 335 counted in 2005.

A combination of factors contributed to these trends, according to the Department of Homeless Services, which conducts the annual survey. The economic slowdown gripping the city is one of the key reasons behind the increase in homelessness in Queens and the other boroughs.

“These are challenging times that have had an impact on our street homeless population,” Robert Hess, the department’s commissioner, said in a statement.

The Queens homeless population increased by a smaller degree than any in other borough except the Bronx, where it inched up only 6 percent. Brooklyn’s homeless rate saw a jump of 114 percent, while Manhattan’s increased 47 percent and Staten Island’s went up 45 percent.

TimesLedger Newspapers accompanied a team of volunteers that searched sections of Long Island City for homeless during the survey in January. The group found zero homeless people in about two hours of meticulous combing.

Danielle Minelli, the DHS director of street homelessness, said most people living on the streets are individuals on their own and many of them suffer from mental illness, but all people have a right to live outside if they so please.

“We very rarely see families on the streets,” she said, adding that between 2005 and 2009 she only saw four such instances. “You can’t be outside with a child.”

DHS will work over the next year to use the 2010 survey to focus and target its efforts in order to bring the number of homeless back down again, according to Hess.

“We will increase outreach efforts to the most vulnerable clients, expand the availability of alternatives to shelters and undertake a variety of other strategies to ensure that no New Yorker has to spend a night on the streets,” he said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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